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Meet Andrew Cohen and Michael McClay of Staying Afloat Party Boat in Fort Lauderdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew Cohen and Michael McClay.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Andrew and Michael. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Mike and I had been friends for about a year and were both very involved in all ocean activities. We quickly became passionate about sharing the experience of being on the water with others. Mike approached me with the idea of buying a charter boat for diving, fishing, and partying and we ran with it.

Over the course of 2 months of research and brainstorming, we narrowed our idea down to creating the best party boat ever; this was primarily due to equipment costs/maintenance, profit margins, and scalability. Once we located our ideal party boat, we started experimenting with different marketing avenues in order to increase sales. Eventually we found our niche customer to be bachelorette parties and were able to truly target this key demographic.

I feel like our strongest point, without ego, is that nobody can show people as good a time on the water as us. Our key to continuous performance was tracking our failures and tweaking them on a small level until it works, or eventually dropping it if flawed. Our overall goal stayed the same: “to show people the best time on the water”, but we rolled with the punches and weren’t single minded on how we achieve our goal.

Currently we are monitoring the Fort Lauderdale market to perfect our product, which we will soon scale to other cities based on the proven business model. Each city will likely require small modifications to its operation but can follow the company’s common goal and overall strategy.

Has it been a smooth road?
No, of course not. I would actually be worried if it had been completely smooth.

When we launched our first charters in July, we were booked the first two weekends and couldn’t believe how smooth things were running; then August came… We had a 3 week dry spell and had no clue why. Both of us were fairly nervous that we made a bad investment and the company didn’t have a market. We definitely lost money that month but stuck through it, altering our methods of getting the word out and locking in bookings. Luckily our company was small and personal enough that we could offer unique incentives such as out of the ordinary times, extended trips, and even free rides to popular local businesses. The last week of August, we suddenly had requests coming in, not many but a steady flow.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Our company creates a boat environment that is cost-effective and enticing coupled with captains that inspire a good time. Basically put: this is what we do with our friends for fun.

We pick groups up at the AirBnB’s, hotels, or homes they’re staying at and then our knowledgeable captains show them hidden gems of the city; all while guests are dancing, drinking, and eating. The whole business model was eliminate the “additional charge” which you see all the time in boating; most companies charge for fuel, captain, even ice. We eliminated the mentality of up-charging during the sale and focused on efficiency with enthusiasm. The only choice our clients need to make, is if they want to be on the water 4 hours or 8 hours.Our boats are BYOB, bring food, and even bring pets.

Where we captivate an entire party is in the details. Since each group’s mentality varies so much, our captains evaluate the atmosphere and then cater the charter to fit their mood, sights, and activities. Our greatest assets are the Coast Guard licensed captains we hire, all are extremely personable, fit, and love the water. We add value in every aspect of the company and what sets us apart from competition is where the guests notice it. For example, a bachelorette party might love the awesome Bluetooth sound system whereas a family might enjoy that we provide an accurate tour of the yachts and mansions.

The proudest moment of owning this company is when I heard a bachelorette exclaiming to her friends that “this is the most fun day of my life.” Since then, I am grateful to have heard it a few times.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Naturally it depends on the industry and business one is looking to become involved in. From my perspective, South Florida is a fantastic place to start a company. It is an ever growing city that connects many different parts of the world. We have the benefit of United States laws with the international consumer to cater to. Not to mention it’s probably the nicest place to live in the country. There are many brilliant people in South Florida that are willing to help entrepreneurs with mentorship, references, and even investments.

Many people initially told us that the boat entertainment market was saturated in Fort Lauderdale and dominated by businesses that have been around forever. So, we created an entirely novel product to offer the boating market here, and then perfected it.

I think a lot of people in Fort Lauderdale and Miami talk about opening their own business or dominating their industry, and the majority don’t. This turns away many successful people that would like to help dedicated and smart entrepreneurs. Therefore, I feel like the cities need a system of weeding out the movers from the shakers and then connecting those people with the right mentors.


  • 4 Hour Boat = $600
  • 6 Hour Boat = $825
  • 8 Hour Boat = $1000

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